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“It’s the perfect storm of last year;” powerful piece by renowned artist takes on life during COVID


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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — A Tennessee artist’s work has been featured in The Washington Post and The New York Times. His latest piece takes on a huge ambition, summing up life in the time of the pandemic.

In one studio, art’s not just made from paint and brushes. So, what has made its way into the art of Wayne Brezinka?

“What hasn’t?” Brezinka laughed. “There’s everything.”

Taking a closer look at the work on his studio walls, you can find pennies, crayons, and rocks for starters.

“I like to move to the corner of the room and watch people find those little treasures embedded within it,” Brezinka smiled.

For his latest work, one of Wayne’s little treasures comes from a friend 60 miles away.

“When they’re ripe, they stand out,” said Jack Allen, walking to a little garden. “There’s no question of when a tomato is ready.”

For a long time, Jack has loved the quiet of the home he shares with his wife in Primm Springs.

“I have those wire cages, 18 of them,” Jack said, motioning to where he often grows the tomatoes.

Jack’s story isn’t as simple as gardening tomatoes. Last year, he was given very hard news.

“I had bladder cancer,” said Jack. “Adding to what was going on psychologically with the pandemic, it’s disbelief, denial.”

Jack went through surgery.

“It’s a three month recovery,” said Jack.

In that difficult time, COVID meant Jack couldn’t have visitors .The quiet was no longer so comforting.

“You’re isolated, I cannot even begin to imagine,” said Wayne.

Hearing stories of people in 2020 reminded Wayne of the Book of Job.

“Job lost pretty much everything,” said Wayne. “We can all relate to pain and loss and sorrow.”

With his father-in-law serving as the model for Job, Wayne began building a piece out of items from people whose lives were disrupted in 2020. The items included notes to grandparents, things that brought comfort, and bracelets from hospital stays.

“Jack gave me his pathology report, his diagnosis of bladder cancer,” said Wayne, adding the papers to the piece.

Like with his tomatoes, Jack understands good things can come with patience.

“Knowing there would be a harvest, there would be a chance to reconnect, it makes us remember what’s important, what’s eternal,” said Jack.

One day, Jack arrived to CreatiVets to see Wayne’s completed piece for the very first time.

“Wow,” said Jack.

The piece showed Wayne’s interpretation of Job, a man sitting on a large pile of items from the people who donated. A bluebird flew above Job’s head.

“It’s the perfect storm of last year,” said Jack. “It’s the grief, the loss, the COVID. Yet, the bluebird. That is what I’d call hope. I could spend all day looking at these things and feeling in my heart something that is touched.”

“For Jack and his story to live in this work will be a highlight for me,” said Wayne.

Wayne is doing an exhibition debut of the piece on Saturday, April 24 from 1pm to 5pm. It’s being held at CreatiVets at 1125 12th Ave. S, Unit B in Nashville. Masks will be required for all who want to see the work in-person.

For more on Wayne’s work, visit

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